National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Charlie Woodrum

Location: Shreveport, LA
WFO Shreveport
Job Title: Warning Coordination Meteorologist

Educational Background:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Atmospheric Science from Florida State University

Describe the career path that led you to your current job with the National Weather Service.

  • I started my career with the NWS as a student volunteer for the Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Pittsburgh, PA and a student trainee with the WFO in Tallahassee, FL. From there, I got promotions to Meteorologist Intern in Wilmington, OH and Journeyman Forecaster in Pittsburgh, PA. I took a leap of faith by taking a reassignment to NWS Headquarters as Program Coordination Officer (PCO), where I worked for two years for NWS and NOAA leaders. I then took a re-assignment as National Decision Support Services Program Manager, which I served in for over a year before getting promoted to Regional Warning Coordination Meteorologist in Pacific Region HQs. Then I was promoted to come back to the mainland for my current position.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • In this position, I am Regional Warning Coordination Meteorologist and also Regional Program Manager for the IDSS, Marine, Aviation, Public, Fire, and Winter programs. I coordinate outreach, preparedness, and IDSS throughout the Pacific Region (including Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa). I am also an active member on the National Lightning Safety Team, and I focus my efforts particularly on lightning safety for outdoor venues. This has included giving exciting talks to sports organizations like the NCAA, MLB, NFL, and MLS. In addition, I am a contributor to the evolution of IDSS and its plan for training employees on delivering effective IDSS.

What was the most interesting, exciting, or impactful weather/water event you experienced while working for the NWS and why does it stand out?

  • Hurricane Sandy stands out for me as the defining event of my career. I was working in Pittsburgh at the time and we dealt with a wide range of post-tropical impacts from flooding, to wind damage, to three feet of heavy wet snow over higher elevations. Although I also was involved with other high-impact events, like the 2012 Derecho, Sandy really stands out because our office utilized this event to take our messaging to the public and decision support to our partners to a whole new level of service.

What made you decide to pursue a career with the NWS?

  • Hurricane Andrew and the Blizzard of 1993 got me interested in weather. They got me intrigued in how to develop a better understanding of weather phenomena and communicate that information to the public. When I realized that the NWS offers so many ways to do this, it became a no-brainer for me in high school that a career with the NWS was right. I later learned about the duties of Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM), and that motivated me to focus my work in outreach and decision support.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • There is nothing more gratifying than issuing a forecast that you know helped the public or our partners with their decision-making process. Getting to know those decision-makers and developing partnerships with them to better understand their needs really drives me in my career.

What advice do you have for someone interested in a career with the NWS?

  • Reach out to mentors who work at NWS for insight and further information about their careers.
  • Get experience in a field office as a volunteer.
  • Find out which part of the agency would best fit your interests.
  • Push the limits of what you think you're capable of and do things for the weather community that have never been done before.
  • If you have a new idea and there are doubters, don't let them bring you down. Surround yourself with positive people who are innovators and want to help.

What training or coursework would you recommend to someone interested in following your career path?

  • Early on, a student should focus on learning the fundamentals of meteorology by developing a strong core in physics and calculus. However, in order to have a career focused in outreach and decision support services, communication skills are key! Taking classes in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), emergency management, and effective communication will be beneficial. The most valuable experience, though, is working in an NWS office and getting involved in the work needed to carry out our mission.